x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

JK Rowling strikes out

"Debut" thriller set for fame as J K Rowling is outed as the real author.

So Robert Galbraith, whose debut crime thriller received warm but not outstanding reviews when it was released earlier this year, has been revealed as none other than J K Rowling, author of the multimillion selling Harry Potter books.

One suspects that the fortunes of Galbraith's The Cuckoo's Calling, which has attracted only modest sales to date, are about to dramatically improve. Rowling chose to write under a pseudonym after being mauled by some critics for A Casual Vacancy, her first post-Potter release. In doing so, she joined a rich literary tradition: Stephen King wrote five books under the pen name Richard Bachman to get around his publisher's quota of only releasing one book per year, while Oxford don John Innes Mackintosh Stewart used the pen name Michael Innes for his detective stories so as not to muddy his reputation for literary criticism.

And what's Rowling's book like? Frank Morgan's review of The Cuckoo's Calling in The National said the tale of investigator Cormoran Strike "rattles along nicely", adding with an impressive degree of prescience: "I suspect we'll be hearing more about Strike soon."

That we are, probably says as much about Rowling's wizardry when it comes to publicity as it does about the book's merits.